Friday, August 06, 2010

No Blondes on the Bus

Lately I’ve been using public transportation often here in San Nicolas de los Arroyos, and I’ve noticed a few things:

1) No blondes on the bus. I AM the blonde on the bus, even though my hair gets called auburn or light brown in California. Okay, there was one with a really bad bleach job once, and another time a taller-than-me real blonde.

2) No reading on the bus. Quite a contrast to the book-reading T-riders in Boston and the newspaper aficionados on the DC metro. Here solo riders stare in to space or doze or play on their cell phones. Groups chat.  I have never seen even one person reading.  Not once. 

3) Lots of families on the bus. Toddlers with big brown eyes and silky dark hair, little girls with pink coats and ponytails, 4-foot tall wrinkled grannies, young couples, entire families (dad holds the baby while mom minds two toddlers). Lots of cuddling of kids.  The wildest behavior might be a three-year-old who stands on the seat to smile at everyone. Notable.

4) Nursing on the bus. Moms casually lift their blouses and feed the squirmy babes. As this happens in
cafes and parks as well, no one even blinks at this. So no crying infants ever.

5) Gentlemen on the bus. Even teens get up to offer seats to old folks.

6) Dirt on the bus. These local buses are dirty inside and out since the route is not all paved. They are slow, noisy, and incredibly uncomfortable. My friends in Toronto, New York, DC, etc, can feel green and good at the same time taking mass transit. (Boston has it worse since the screeching rickety old trains break down with third-world frequency.)

7) Coins on the bus. The one-way fare into town is 1.80 pesos (about 45 US cents), and you must pay in coins. If I buy a sheet of advance tickets, it drops to 1.60, and the driver manually cancels it, noting his driver ID. Forget magnetic cards, we get personalized service. A taxi, by the way, costs 30 pesos, a remis about 20.

8) No ads on the bus. The only signs are for Tansha, the bus company, and a sign that says you must exit at rear. No maps of routes, no clever ads for colleges or cafes.

9) Fashion on the bus. Typical attire for guys is jeans, sneakers, sweatshirt, modest jackets in dreary colors, and perhaps a small backpack. The chicas wear painted-on jeans and something in a rich plum color, this winter’s fashion statement. Reused plastic shopping bags abound.  Only old ladies wear skirts or glasses or carry handbags. Now and then a woman climbs aboard with fancy leather boots (even in red) with pointed toes, spiked heels, with studded designs.

10) No handicapped persons on the bus. I have yet to see anyone try to board one of these with a cane, much less a wheel chair (and nary a stroller, come to think of it). Even for me the steps seem high and steep, and I am glad there is a grab bar. (And of course there are no spots for bikes, as you would see in cities like Santa Cruz, California.)


mybeautifulair said...

so true!!! i was brunette in the States, but now people keep calling me rubia!

cachandochile said...

Great observations! And while your "You know if you're a Yank" post resonated with my experience in Chile, this pretty much did not at all... but maybe because I'm in the city and you're in a smaller town.
Is there much pick-pocketing on the bus? I can't help but wonder how many people don't read because they don't want to be distracted enough to have their pockets picked? (big problem on Santiago buses and subways).

Porteno said...

I agree about the small town. Regular commuters in BA on the contrary mostly read. Watch any subte video on Ytube or take a ride!
there are pickpockets but nothing to stop you reading..

yoxx said...

yeah wonderful observations...

Gayle said...

Interesting comment, C. I haven't any reason to believe that pickpocketing is big...then again, these buses are not as crowded as in Buenos Aires or Santiago. . . I generally get a seat to myself or with a quiet teen or senior next to me--and take out a book and read, fairly confident nothing untoward will happen.